West Brom will be looking to continue their recent form on Thursday night as they welcome one of Sam Allardyce’s former sides, Everton, to The Hawthorns.
On the face of it, things are starting to turn around for the 66-year-old, having steered his side to an unbeaten run of three matches, in which they have conceded only one goal.
However, the test of the Toffees is a big one as they too have enjoyed an upturn in results, winning back-to-back league outings to move into seventh place, and a win here would see them move into the top four.
Big Sam may find it hard to alter much of his starting lineup considering they have not lost in three games, but there is one move he should make…
January arrival and Premier League veteran Robert Snodgrass should be available for selection following injury, having missed the draw to Burnley and the win over Brighton.
Speaking ahead of the encounter, Allardyce said, via Albion’s official website: “He’s back in the squad and ready to go.”
Therefore, he should come straight back in as his experience (169 PL appearances) and know-how will be invaluable against Carlo Ancelotti’s men, particularly in battling their impressive attack of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez.
The latter of which is likely to be Snodgrass’ opposite number, if selected.
Ancelotti hinted that he could well be available to face the Baggies this week, so Allardyce must prepare to face either him or Alex Iwobi on that right flank, which is where the Scotsman comes in.
Rodriguez is Everton’s joint-second top goalscorer on five goals, while only one other player has provided more assists (four), via WhoScored, so straight away, it is clear to see how important he is to the Toffees’ cause.
Similarly. the World Cup sensation tops the charts for creating chances, averaging 2.1 key passes per 90 minutes. By comparison, this is the same number we’ve seen from Matheus Pereira this term, and we know how reliant Albion can be on him as a playmaking outlet.
The 33-year-old veteran seems well-equipped to deal with whatever is thrown his way. He sits second amongst this West Brom squad for tackles per game (2.5), which is a telling sign of his relentless work-rate as he’s often deployed as a winger.
This means he’s tracking back and helping out his defence – he could form quite the wall alongside Conor Towsend on that left flank to thwart and silence the threat that Rodriguez possesses.
The versatile £20k-per-week gem has been dubbed the “whole package” and a “huge character” since joining the Baggies at the start of the year, and he’s exactly the sort of player you bring straight back in when available.
He simply must start instead of Matty Phillips against the Toffees on Thursday night.
AND in other news, £11.7m-rated West Brom “genius” is now suffering massively under Allardyce…